April 29th, 2014

SKETCH: Impotent Select Committees Aren’t Up to the Job

How do politicians make their servants do what they’re told? In the 600+ quasi independent public bodies – all with different powers, purposes, and appointment processes – how do ministers know enough to penetrate the complexity of it all and make workers work and managers manage in the public interest?

From Railtrack to the Care Quality Commission to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, very many of the state’s functions have been given just enough freedom for ministers, in Kelvin Hopkins’ cynical estimation, “to avoid blame but to retain control”.

These bodies regularly appear in front of select committees. Through a combination of blocking answers, holding answers, smoke, gas, offers to write to the committee, structural abstractions, refusal to answer the question – by the whole panoply of administrative passive aggression – these bodies do not answer to Parliament.

The Public Administration Committee is feeling its feckless way into the question.

Witnesses from the Institute of Government and the University of Birmingham gave every appearance of knowing more about it than the committee, but as most witnesses in front of committees do, they dealt in frameworks, management structures and efficiency gains.

“Aren’t we chasing minnows while the fat salmon swim past untroubled?” Paul Flynn asked (he’s hired a new lyricist). He referred to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority where contracts double in cost, years are added to projects, and the next big bill presented by the American firm running the Authority will be around £93bn – massively, monstrously more than any efficiency savings that could be made by all the other public bodies put together.

He said the KPMG report into the Nuclear Decom record was so thoroughly redacted that all the complaints about management were removed.

This is known. And this is where the action is. Bernard Jenkin’s inquiry is starting well back from the starting line.

Select committees in their current form aren’t up to this great work. They are poorly-prepared, insufficiently co-ordinated, and lack the skills – and often even the will – to nail these wretches’ feet to the floor and beat the truth out of them.

The story continues. Let’s have a look at the BIS committee on Royal Mail, next.


104 Comments

  1. 1
    Max Clifford says:

    Did someone say impotent?

    Like

    • 4
      The Ruling Class says:

      Yes, – we just can’t get it up anymore

      Like

      • 28
        JadedJean16 says:

        Re the American firm running the “Nuclear Decom” (or is it nucular?)

        I thought the privateers were all supposed to be marvellously efficient!

        Maybe nationalisations aren’t such a bad idea after all?

        Like

        • 44
          jgm2 says:

          This nuclear decommissioning is ludicrously expensive. There exist several obvious places to stick all this waste.

          Do you remember those underground nuclear tests they carried out back in the 50′s, 60′s, 70′s and 80′s down in the South Pacific?

          There are huge cavities miles underground created by these fucking giant explosions. Just drill into them and tip the whole fucking lot down there. I’m betting you could ‘decommission’ several power stations into a single hole.

          Like

          • Phil McAvity says:

            There’s also Sally Bercow’s orifices!

            Like

          • El Sid says:

            Sally’s orifices are already full of contaminated waste.

            Like

          • broderick crawford says:

            yeah but on the other hand remember the China Syndrome.

            If you buried it in a South Pacific atoll it would probably burn its way right back up and erupt about five miiles east of Anglesey …

            Like

        • 88
          broderick crawford says:

          Fukushima was /is Tepco i e parastatal .

          Take your pick then go figure. Both sides commit cretinous errors so adopt the brace position , put your head deep between your legs and kiss your arse good bye .

          Like

          • broderick crawford says:

            ….oh hold on

            five miles east of Anglesy would probably put it in the Welsh hinterland … well that s all right then .

            Like

    • 48
      help help here come the bears says:

      Ed Balls should be seeking medical attention to address his rigid thought processes

      Someone who requires industrial strength medication should not be let anywhere neer public finances

      Like

    • 87
      broderick crawford says:

      As we speak the various Bubbas are drawing lots to determine who will have the droit de seigneur this weekend …

      Like

  2. 2
    The Stilton Eater says:

    These committees often seem hijacked by oleaginous publicity seeking MPs like Hodge, Jenkin and Vaz. They use the committee as a platform for self-promotion, serving up TV soundbites rather make enquiries on our behalf.

    Like

    • 7
      A CIRCUMLOCUTOR says:

      together they act as a modern day version of dickens’ OFFICE OF CIRCUMLOCUTION

      Like

    • 15
      jgm2 says:

      Labour used them as show-trials as part of their ‘divert the blame for the UK’s economic clusterfuck away from us’ initiative.

      Like

    • 81
      Fucking dis custard says:

      There are all Hunts

      Like

    • 91
      broderick crawford says:

      Yes now you mention it there is something particularly oleaginous about someone like Vaz . The skin pore configuration tends to have an orientation to secrete an unctious shiny coating over the countenance .

      At the strongly unintended risk of sounding waycist did we know that the origin of the acronym w.o.g. is disputed ;

      Some say it stands for ” wily oriental gentleman ” others for ” willfully oleaginous gentleman ”

      If the cap fits …

      Like

  3. 3
    dai exasperated says:

    to avoid blame and take the credit for unexpected success – might be a refinement of mr hopkins’ observation

    Like

  4. 5
    Dorkass says:

    Nuclear decommissioning is a very expensive business when the only place you can put the waste is in Chernobyl, and you have to take over the Ukraine government first.

    Like

  5. 6
    Guido Fawkes,The Fat Controller. says:

    I asked George Osborne whether people will be better off in 2015 than 2010. He refused to answer. I wonder why..

    Like

    • 11
      jgm2 says:

      You should have asked if they were better off in 2010 than they were in 2005.

      Like

      • 19
        Town crier says:

        Or if they were better off in 2010 than in 1997?

        Like

        • 83
          Fucking dis custard says:

          They might have been in 1952

          Like

          • broderick crawford says:

            Gideon does not answer because in the tradition of our weather forecasters he only gives a three day forward view of any credence and does not comment on occurrences relative to a longer time frame

            ( coz eee don t know innit ,)

            Like

    • 12
      George Osbourne says:

      Of course people could be worse of in 2015.Ed Balls might be in charge of the treasury for a start.

      Like

      • 52
        Ed Ballls says:

        That’s errr quarter past ten, no wait 243…aw this number thing sucks, I need something built to last

        Like

  6. 8
    Iain Duncan Smith says:

    Infuriatingly sad: rough sleeping in London up yet again! 8% increase Jan-March 2014 compared to same quarter in 2013 http://bit.ly/1iBmxOd

    But what else do you expect from a Conservative led coalition ?

    Like

  7. 9
    Pollytwaddle says:

    “How do politicians make their servants do what they’re told? In the 600+ quasi independent public bodies – all with different powers, purposes, and appointment processes – how do ministers know enough to penetrate the complexity of it all and make workers work and managers manage in the public interest?”

    How? HOW?!?!?!

    Obviously. They don’t.

    Like

  8. 10
    Anonymous says:

    God, this is boring….

    Like

  9. 16
    Andrea Leadsom says:

    Fuck Off !

    Like

  10. 17
    Incapable Vince, deputy Chief Cockroach says:

    I have never heard of Royal Mail.

    Like

  11. 21
    C O (Ξ7q1) says:

    @OR and anyone else interested: Climate change de-bolloxed (Sorry for the repost).

    The following video shows a plot of CRUTEM4.2 data from 1931 through 2013.

    This data is a complete set of average monthly temperatures as recorded by land based weather stations around the world. Each point shown is depicted at the corresponding land station location, and the colour indicates the average monthly temperature for the year / month indicated.

    Average temperatures for different regions of the world are shown sliding on the bottom bar: Northern / Southern hemispheres, broken out by tropical / non-tropical regions etc.

    This cannot be lined up with the SST data posted previously just yet as the SST data needs to be gridded and averaged by month to give a comparable data set.

    However – the temperature swings for the land data are clearly much larger over the year compared to that seen in the SST data, reinforcing the fact that air temperature recorded over the sea is more stable than that over land: A function of the different thermal properties of land vs. water.

    Note also the geographical biasing with respect to data point density for Land.

    As data points for sea measurements are biased towards shipping routes, land based measurements appear to be biased towards developed industrialized nations. As urbanization has proceeded in those countries (it is well known that urban areas record larger temperature swings over the year compared to natural), this is suggesting that any increase in air temperatures recorded over land is perhaps more reflective of measurements now being affected by that aspect of human development.

    That does not translate to global temperatures raising – but would affect local, and has absolutely nothing to do with CO2 emissions.

    ie. Unless urban areas are removed or reduced in size, or built in a way that has less of an effect on local air temperature, it does not matter if you increase either your energy efficiency or use energy sources which are carbon neutral.

    - This hypothesis is really worth testing :-D

    The following is conjecture:

    It perhaps explains why the US Govt. has an active interest in limiting urban development now in the Continental US. There is a very clear implication for urban development elsewhere – especially in countries such as Ch!na.

    May also in part explain why there has been such resistance to further urban development within the UK – clearly demonstrated by the inflation of House Prices and increased population densities over the past 20 years.

    The problem is that increased localized heating of the atmosphere likely may make the weather more unstable locally. The effects of that may show up in insurance claims data for claims related to weather induced loss and damages.

    If this notion can be supported, it certainly does indicate that increasing energy efficiency and switching away from fossil sources despite the economic contradiction will not change anything.

    The thermal properties of bricks / concrete – the relative density in an area – , and the effect of improvements in building insulation likely correlate more with localized increases in temperature.

    Like

    • 34
      jgm2 says:

      So, what you’re saying is that any new homes should be built more spaced out in the countryside? Naturally, as the owner of plenty of countryside myself I’m all in favour but I can’t see the ‘not-in-my-backyard-unless-you-pay-me-£1,000,000-an-acre’ crowd going for that.

      Like

      • 45
        Casual Razor Stalker Watch says:

        I bet you’re beginning to wish you had never shown an interest?

        Like

      • 50
        Chairman Mao says:

        Good point. There are two or three thousand major landowners who need to be rounded up and dealt with.

        Like

      • 65
        C O (Ξ7r1) says:

        No.

        I am stating a hypothesis that can be tested to investigate any apparent changes in low level atmospheric heating.

        Faster and more rapid temperature changes in the air lead to increased atmospheric instability, which would result in more extreme localized phenomena such as tornado’s, stronger local storms etc. That can be investigated by looking at insurance claims data – if available.

        If the effect on precipitation is to reduce, that will lead to areas becoming drier – which perhaps has a positive feedback effect. Changes in rainfall patterns are a direct problem for man, but not impossible to address with modern technology. (The UK leads the way here)

        The localised vs. global explains why major systems such as T’yphoon / H’urricanes are not more prevalent.

        The CO2 link I suspect is erroneous: CO2 increases will correlate with urban / infrastructure development, but are likely not driving the atmospheric temperature changes as it is perhaps more changes of the properties of the surface that are responsible for that.

        I would suggest that reducing CO2 will not have any effect on localized temperature trends, or the changes which are being seen in certain weather systems.

        If the hypothesis is correct:

        A good way forward would be to develop new materials for building infrastructure and urban centres which have thermal properties much closer to those presented by the pre-developed land, especially for future constructions.

        Adopting un-economic means of energy production to address this problem is a catastrophically wrong policy solution, as is reducing energy consumption.

        The lesson from this may be that construction is fine, as is fossil fuel consumption. However, if one does not want to disturb the thermal properties of the atmosphere locally the thermal properties of the earth’s surface should not be changed too radically by that construction.

        However, governments appear to be adopting the policy of population reduction and cessation of construction rather than being willing to innovate in order to meet demand responsibly.

        The UN also appears to have its policy twisted overtly against the interests of the developed nations on this matter: The converse implications for developing nations absent new materials being available should explain why.

        Ironically, HS2 may be more damaging to the environment from the localized climate change perspective than building and running a few coal fired power stations to bring energy costs down.

        Like

        • 86
          Fucking dis custard says:

          Your boring bastard

          Like

          • broderick crawford says:

            So — one way to avoid the excesses of clinate change would be to live in somewhere like Turku in Finkand ( within the Arctic Circle and of low density habitation but containing the protective infrastructure so beloved by urbanites like me ) ?

            Or alternatively booking indefinite oassage on a container ship plying the sea / ocean lanes with the greatest traditional climactic stability .

            Problem is to afford the latter I’d have to win the Lottery to pay for 20 years board and victuals on HMS PC World plying white goods /electricals China-UK round trips .

            But what about a mid ocean tsunami ??!!!

            Turku and the birch saunas it is then …..

            Like

          • broderick crawford says:

            ……. i wvonder if they ll let me live in an igloo and survive on seaweed .?

            Like

    • 73
      Ockham's Razor says:

      Tied up with the UK tax people(!) today so have not had a chance to read. Have a few observations prepared but not sent. Will catch up later on.

      More excellent work though!

      Like

      • 97
        broderick crawford says:

        If you were with the tax peopke my friend be assured you will be
        “tied up ” with them for far longer than today !

        Like

  12. 22
    Nigel Farage says:

    There are not enough White people in prison. This is a racist outrage. More White people need to be jailed to increase diversity.

    Like

  13. 23
    AXE THE TELLY TAX !!! says:

    BBCs take on the 0.8 % growth announced this morning the 5th consecutive growth in succession…..

    Are the UK economic growth figures reliable?
    By Anthony Reuben
    Head of statistics, BBC News

    That from the news company that called the biggest Labour created and led bust as “the downturn” for over a year when everyone knew it was a full blown recession.
    Remember, they also never once questioned the figures in the 13 years of terror but only the baby eater Tories for questioning Labours judgement by describing them as ” talking Britain down”

    Like

    • 49
      BBC is shit says:

      I still remember the days when the BBC only used to report the news,now they interpret it..oh plus ‘in depth analysis’.
      You only have to look at the left wing pedigree of most of the BBC’s reporters to guess which interpretation the public will get.

      Like

      • 66
        jgm2 says:

        You probably remember the days when you thought it merely reported the news rather than putting its own (or the government of the day’s) interpretation on it.

        George Orwell’s 1984 wasn’t a leap of imagination. It was borrowing and extrapolating from his own experiences working at the BBC.

        Objectively, do you really think a government (the UK) who lic*en*sed radios just so that, in the event of an ‘emergency’, they could go and confiscate them to stop you hearing ‘bad’ ideology, created the BBC for purely altruistic purposes?

        Do you really think that in these years of hardship we have no better use for 3bn quid a year than ‘Grandstand’ and ‘Eastenders’? All that output is just cover for the BBC’s real purpose. Which is to keep feeding you establishment bullshit and to head off any establishment opposition.

        Hence today’s concerted all-channel assault on UKIP.

        Like

        • 75
          It's have a go at UKIP month on the BBC says:

          It’s not establishment bullshit the BBC spouts, it’s lefty bullshit.
          This is a very special kind of bullshit – complete, total and utter.

          Like

  14. 25
    It's have a go at UKIP month on the BBC says:

    Who was the fool sitting next to the UKIP spokeswoman on DP today?
    I only want to know as I’m curious as to which party he represents and I can therefore never vote for them.
    Thank you.

    Like

  15. 27
    Yellow is colour is of the Euro losers says:

    Don’t know who the UKIP woman is on Daily Politics but she’s fencing of the crap that bBBC is putting up, it seems it’s get UKIP day today, the LibLabCon and the bBBC are be running scared, I think the best one they have had on is the EU is better for woman than being out of the EU, you just couldn’t make it up.

    Like

    • 32
      The EU says:

      We make it up as we go along!

      Like

      • 99
        broderick crawford says:

        Talking of making it up as one goes along why is it that the new European Commission whilst being ” elected” in Spring will not take operational office until,October leaving the old guard in situ for five months to create havoc .

        European rules I grant you but eons away from the British way where the removal men are into Downing Street at sparrowfart on election eeekend and it s all done by the Monday !!

        Like

    • 77
      Talk of running scared says:

      When Cameron has to promise to keep his promise on an EU Referendum, as he now has, I’d call that running scared.

      Downright desperate. Those close to him must have realised he’s not fooled anyone.

      Like

  16. 29
    Get you Ducky says:

    Ukip MEP Roger Helmer: People should be able to dislike gay people like they do different types of tea http://q.gs/6ncAV

    Like

    • 57
      Democracy says:

      He’s saying people should be allowed to be bigots. I agree. What I don’t understand why kippers call it a smear when its pointed out.

      Like

  17. 35
    Yellow is colour of the Euro losers says:

    They have that Mattinson woman on bBBC, would you buy a used car from her , would I hell, I wouldn’t believe her, if she shouted your on fire, if I was on fire.

    Like

  18. 37
    Guy News Room says:

    PM’s spokesman adds re David Cameron’s mystery absence from HS2 Bill: “He doesn’t always vote,and sadly this time was on the lavatory straining at the time of the vote. His face was redder than normal.”

    Like

  19. 46
    Yellow is colour of the Euro losers says:

    Clegg spending £500 million we don’t have on batttery operated toy cars, this sort of rubbish has to stop, another waste of money that could be used to a better choice.

    Like

  20. 58
    Guy News Room says:

    One of Europe’s biggest trade union events the Durham Miners’ Gala is under threat after the region’s mining union received a £2 million legal bill yesterday over its fight for compensation for miners’ suffering a crippling ailment.
    The Durham Miners Association (DMA), which organises the gala, has been fighting for years for ex-miners who are still suffering crippling work-related ailment.
    And for the last six years the DMA has been fighting for compensation for osteoarthritis of the knee, known as miners’ knee
    However the judge rejected the claim, as did the appeal court and now the DMA faces a £2m bill, putting the gala in jeopardy.
    DMA general secretary Dave Hopper told the Star: “Paying this bill will have a serious effect on our finances, which means that our ability to continue with the Durham Miners’ Gala will depend largely on donations to The Friends of the Durham Miners’ Gala.”
    In 2012, the DMA set up the Friends of the Durham Miners Gala to secure the event’s future.
    Mr Hopper added: “We believe that this is a people’s gala and if we have thousands of people giving a little each year the gala will be safe. Of course, we will be more than happy to receive bigger donations from trade union organisations but it was the people of Durham that saved the Gala and in the long run it will be the people of Durham, and our many well-wishers who attend from all over Britain, who will keep it going.

    Like

    • 70
      jgm2 says:

      Has anybody in Durham been down a mine for the last 25 years?

      Surely it should be the Durham miner’s seance.

      Like

    • 100
      broderick crawford says:

      I do of course sympathise sincerely with the many ailments that afflict miners after a working lifetime possibly cut short through no fault of their own .

      Miner s Knee whilst I don ‘ t doubt its reality is a new one on me .

      I’ve got Drinker s Elbow brought on by a lifetime of constructive , consistent , undying support for our ale industry ……does this qualify for a benefit at all ?

      Like

  21. 61
    catesby says:

    It’s like living in the Soviet Union!

    Like

  22. 62
    The new Dad's Army film says:

    “Don’t tell him, Ahmed!”

    Like

    • 67
      Ellie-Mae (9) says:

      Perhaps it should be set in the Ukraine, with that Ashton woman playing the repugnant busybody ARP warden….oh wait

      Like

  23. 68
    Ian Duncan Smith says:

    I have never heard of Universal Credit

    Like

    • 101
      broderick crawford says:

      Never heard of Universal Credit ?!

      You have lied to the House Sir, like John Profumo before you .

      Are you acquainted with the work of the Peabody Trust Drunc ?

      Like

  24. 69
    Fallonwatch says:

    If they can write retrospective legislation for those on benefits … we can do the same

    Retro legislation for police and accountants to investigate every contract, every sale, every sleazy action of this coalition

    Retro Legislation could be … any MP who acted against the financial interests of taxpayers will be charged with Treason and Conspiracy to Defraud Taxpayers

    if found guilty …all their assets will be stripped.. they will have a lifetime ban on being on any company board or running any company, all family income for the rest of their life will be means tested until they have repaid the amount stolen from taxpayers and all their family sanctioned from getting any benefits ..as their family has already had all the benefits from taxpayers they are ever going to get – and the entire family – their passports will be removed

    To ensure the MP and their entire family will not be able to flee the country and forced to work on workfare for as long as it takes to repay the debt

    There is always food parcels and charities who can help them ..in the new world they created…

    Yes – retrospective legislation can be used in many ways

    Like

    • 71
      Yellow is colour of the Euro losers says:

      I suggest the retrospective legislation goes back to a 1997 cutoff, 13 years of Liebour innocence doesn’t stand up to scrutiny anymore, the rest of your comment no problem with but you know and I know you have one chance and no chance of any legislation hitting the law books.

      Like

    • 72
      jgm2 says:

      Retro Legislation could be … any MP who acted against the financial interests of taxpayers will be charged with Treason and Conspiracy to Defraud Taxpayers

      That would have Brown shitting broken glass.

      In fact all Labour MPs of the Imbecility would be looking at a life-stretch. If not a neck-stretch.

      60bn quid stolen from the taxpayers and bunged to the banks to underpin the value of their (Labour MPs) property portfolios and another 300bn quid borrowed and squandered to try and buy public sector votes in 2010.

      Since we, for reasons of sqeamishness that I never bought into, are against hanging the fuckers from cranes then jail the whole fucking lot of them for life. Even the ones who were too fucking stupid to realise what was happening. Ignorance is no excuse.

      Retrospective legislation to target MPs?

      I’m all for it.

      Like

    • 104
      olden1936 says:

      What a good idea, I love it and would vote for it.

      Like

  25. 78
    Vacant Possession says:

    Only Parliament should pass laws.

    If politicians had to debate every law they wouldn’t make so many!

    All laws passed by Quango’s should be advisory only and the public should have the right to tell them to bog off.

    Take the lady hauled up by the Advertising Standards Agency for a post on a village billboard. Runing her life did not affect the guy in a bowler hat sporting a brolly one jot. Sack him.

    Bonfire the quango’s! Force them to risk their houses starting businesses so they have an understanding of what is to work and be accountable. Wouldn’t that be unfair!

    Make Parliament debate a relevant law – and get it right or they have to do it again. Perhaps when we’d see full benches in the commons if they had to work for their money. Perhaps too we’d get a brighter bunch than the career parasites now burdening the population whilst they look forward to their Summer Recess; Osborne & Cameron most definitely included, IDS, MG, DH, DC excepted as useful constructive individuals interested in more than their own image in the mirror..

    Like

  26. 79
    Anonymous says:

    No really, this is very fucking boring….can we shoot gallery Guido please?

    Like


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